The recent news from the FAA on proposed rules for commercial use of drones will be broadly discussed and debated at Drone World Expo, taking place Nov. 17-18, 2015, at the San Jose Convention Center. The event's advisory board is presently working to shape the two-day conference program and have plans to offer thought leadership on the impact of the rules on commercial drone users through panel discussions, interactive workshops and case studies.
"This is a watershed moment for the industry, and we know that our illustrious Advisory Board will guide us in shaping dynamic conference sessions that will inspire debate and discussion among the commercial users who will be attending Drone World Expo," said Joel Davis, CEO, JD Events, producers of the show. "Our event is focused entirely on commercial applications of UAS technology and we are thrilled to welcome Matt Merrifield, Chief Technology Officer, California Chapter, The Nature Conservancy and Stephanie Spear, Commercial Regulatory Policy Representative for the National Association of Realtors to our Advisory Board."
Stephanie Spear handles regulatory issues that impact NAR's commercial members. She joined the Realtors after having worked at both the American Institute of Architects and the National Association of Home Builders. Stephanie has her BA from the University of Richmond and her law degree from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. Stephanie is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia.
Matt Merrifield is the Chief Technology Officer for the California Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. He leads a team of professionals that apply geospatial information, technology and design to pressing conservation science issues in California. Matt is trained as a geographic information scientist and is interested in using disruptive technologies (e.g. smartphones, UAVs) that can have big impacts in social-ecological systems. Matt has a BA in Geography from University of California at Berkeley and an MA in Environmental Planning and Geography from San Francisco State University.
Spear and Merrifield join a well respected and dynamic advisory board representing all facets of the industry. Here is what a few members of the advisory board had to say about the proposed FAA rules.
"While these were positive implications, overall the rule still has several restrictions that would hinder the growth of the commercial market. The FAA is only allowing drone flight within direct visual line of sight of the operator which restricts many potential applications for precision agriculture use, package delivery, large area surveying and inspection and more. Other limitations include restricting flights to daylight hours, not allowing other people in the flight area unless they are directly involved with the flight and only allowing one drone flown per operator. We do not believe any of these proposed restrictions would have an adverse affect on the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS) and believe there are technologies that can mitigate the majority of the risks outlined in the proposed rule," said Gretchen West, Vice President of Business Development and Regulatory Affairs, DroneDeploy.
"The new FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is a strong step in the right direction, and provides a great start for discussions on the significant benefits of commercial UAS in the United States. The proposed requirement for a UAS operator's certificate, rather than a private pilot's license, is particularly good news because the certificate is a much better match for the skill set needed to safely operate a UAS in the NAS. Innovators should take advantage of the public comment process to continue to make their voices heard," said Lisa Ellman, UAS Practice Group Co-Chair, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.
"Overall it was refreshing to hear the FAA begin to echo what the industry has been saying for years. UAS will shape and change many industries across America and the technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that the current regulatory framework will not be sufficient to support it. For the next 60 days, we as an industry need to review this document in detail and provide our comments (www.regulations.gov) back to the FAA so that they hear directly from those who this law impacts. It is important that we provide constructive feedback that will enable the FAA to easily turn this into a final rule we can all utilize," said Jesse Kallman, Director of Business Development and Regulatory Affairs, Airware.
"We need to push for the micro class. That's the only thing that will motivate manufacturers to develop small, lightweight, yet very capable systems. The motivation to lighten the systems will keep our skies safer. By making the rules around using the lightweight systems pretty straightforward and 'easy', companies are very motivated to integrate these systems into their workflow. Then they will only use the larger systems when they are absolutely necessary," said Colin Guinn, CRO, 3D Robotics.